I’m a creature of habit. I’ve held onto this blog since I was in Peru blogging in 2008. So, while I’ve been reluctant to move from this comfortable blog spot, my support team tells me there is outdated technology here. Like an old blankie, I’m keeping it to peruse old memories, tips and clips. However, if you’d like to see my current blog posts, head over to Wasabi Publicity or Huffington Post where I’m putting to use my masters degree in human development, undergraduate degree in theater and my 25 years experience as an in-the-trenches publicist. Yes, I’ve seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. I’m that old. I’ve been writing since my 20’s when I won awards for what I wrote so I don’t anticipate not writing any time soon. (Probably not the most award-worthy sentence I’ve ever written. LOL.) As long as I have an audience, I’ll have something to say (wink). Oh, if you’re into my personal vlog, check it out at YouTube where I have a visual audience who hears about the Spinning classes I teach to beat blogger butt rather than the stories I’m spinning. I love what I do and want to continue to share it with you so follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any new social media site that’s hot-to-trot these days.
Show me the money. It’s a famous phrase from a popular movie. I watch that clip and realize in business that’s really what we’re all saying in meetings, is it not? Well, in today’s news it’s no different. Forbes reveals the richest women in the world. It’s a surprising twist on the report. Minorities seem to be their focus this year. Or the young. So, it leaves much for the media to discuss today and you never know, they might be looking for your expertise. Do you know about women’s issues, minority societal challenges or what makes capitalism tick? Perhaps you’re an expert in business and how to grow it? All these industry specialties will be of use to media friends today.
In other news, the measles outbreak is still being covered. Calling all doctors. Still. Parents who have strong opinions about vaccines and health professionals who can weigh in on the ins and outs of keeping our families safe are still needed by media as they take this public conversation all the way to legislation. It’s a natural progression for public conversations. Breaking news, public discourse and then law. You can make the most difference by being heard and then of course, because we live in a democracy, the majority rules. In fact, challenges facing Congress are reported in the news daily. Today, it’s Israel’s Netanyahu’s Congressional address. If you have political or foreign affairs experience, the media will need your help to present legislative discourse to the American public. Well, foreign media will be covering this too so it’s really a global conversation. If it makes a difference to what you’re up to creating in the world, contact media favorites and let them know you can contribute to the story at large.
Yesterday, I blogged on the power of free. The first news story I heard this morning while making pancakes is how IHOP is giving away pancakes today for charity, an annual campaign they run every year. March 3rd is actually National Pancake Day. We love pancakes at our house, but we only make them from whole wheat. How do you make yours? Gluten-free? Tax benefits to those eating gluten-free is in the news today as well. There’s that word “free” again. So ironic in a blog post about being a billionaire. Surprising, but hey, if you’re an accountant, tax break expert or a chef, guess what, you can do a media interview today. Talking about pancakes and tax breaks in the same interview? Unusual, but in today’s news, the minority voice trumps majority rule. Let yours be heard over a hot plate of hot cakes.
Dairy Queen did it. So did Krispy Kreme. People love to get things for free so when celebrating anniversaries and store openings, think about giving away ice cream and donuts. Well, that is if you sell those sweet things. If you sell something else, think about giving that away or some other way to get your audience participating with you. That’s what media do. They love to give things away. Oprah did it. You can too. But instead of giving away all your goods to your direct customers, what can you give away to the media?
Whether it’s advice, free chapters of your book, or a quiz for their readers, many media people are looking for ways to engage their audience. Try to tie these into breaking news of the day. For example, today, there are many topics to wrap around something you can give away to the media. Let’s look at a few examples.
A shocking study comes out today citing 1 out of 5 U.S. teen girls are physically or sexually abused while dating. Are you in a profession to help parents and these teens? Perhaps a doctor, psychologist, social worker or dating expert? Parenting advice, quizzes and other interactive ways to involve teen girls on how to stay safe while dating can really make a difference. Same goes for eating disorders, which was nationally honored last week. You can see how USA Today covered the story and how they used experts, real people and others to publicly discuss the topic and bring about awareness.
Speaking of girls learning to stay safe, Ronda Rousey has no trouble in that category and I bet if you asked her, she’d be all for teen girls learning Jiu Jitsu, one of my hobbies. Here’s one girl in a video demonstrating why women need to learn Jiu Jitsu, one or my favorite shared videos. If you’re an expert in UFC, martial arts or the progression of the sports to include women and attract women to use it for their own safety or career advancement, this week media contacts will want to talk to you. If you do martial arts in your local community – even as a hobby – the local media might want to learn about your insights. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. secured interviews for Hollis Coquhoun who combined her financial know-how with her self-defense expertise to create “financial self-defense” for women about to go through divorce. How can you combine your expertise, hobby and current news tie-ins to usher your good-news message, tips and advice to the public?
Think about what you can give away for free that will make a difference for someone else. It will come back ten-fold. Give, and it will be given to you.
The Breaking Bad sequel Better Call Saul illustrated the challenge of PR in its most recent episode airing this past Monday, February 23, 2015. [Here’s your spoiler alert warning. Don’t tell me later I didn’t warn you.] Just like The Walking Dead, these AMC TV series thoroughly explore the juxtaposition of right/wrong and human desires/needs. PR does the same thing, because those are the core elements of good storytelling. (I can hear my teachers at The Goodman School of Drama now.) For those who are confused what PR actually is, just watch Better Call Saul. Let me explain.
Better Call Saul is about a shady lawyer and how he ‘breaks bad’ just like Walter ‘breaks bad’ as a chemistry teacher turned drug lord in the series by the same name. In the most recent episode, the character Saul calls the media in his town with a typical David and Goliath story about his small law firm up against the big law firm. He gets no traction. Why? The story he’s pitching is all about him. There is no overarching community story. So what does Saul do? He fakes saving a falling billboard worker from the heights of death. It’s a scam, but the media fall for it citing him front page as a lawyer by day and “hero” by night. Saul appears on TV, in print and more. His phone starts to ring with business.
While unethical, Saul ‘earns’ PR. So, how can you do it ethically?
Easy. Tell a story worth telling.
See, there are three types of marketing today: owned (that’s your website, social media accounts and so on — you control the story), paid (that’s advertising where you exchange money for a message sent to the public — you control the story) and finally … earned (that’s you or someone you hire telling your story to the media and offering you as a source to discuss the news tip and guess what, you DO NOT control the story here — the media venue does). Many people don’t understand these subtle differences. Saul’s story brilliantly illustrates it. Wag the Dog is a movie, by the way, which is a must see if you want to truly understand how we Americans consume PR stories. If it turns your stomach, don’t worry, there are ethical people, like me, working in PR. I promise there are some of us working to share good, truthful stories on a daily basis. Contributing to the ‘good of all’ is really what gets me out of bed. We are the stories we share, I believe.
Another story captivating media attention today is Madonna’s fall from the stage yesterday as reported here by Fox. Now Madonna is brilliant at PR. She has always understood how to tell a brilliant story. In this case, her accident (ouch!) makes headline news not because she planned that (probably not) but because it’s a story worth telling. If you’ve got experience with award events, dance or any type of entertainment insider information, the media will be seeking you today to talk about what went wrong with that cape on her costume. They will be telling this story because, let’s face it, Madonna is impeccable on stage as a performer. So entertainment venues of all kinds will continue to have a hey-day with this accident. Also, calling all doctors! You can ‘earn’ yourself great media coverage today talking about the types of accidents that can stem from such a stunt, shoot, I mean accident. If you look at the footage, Madonna gets pulled from several stairs, making it surprising she didn’t hurt herself more. Accidents aside, just look at Madonna’s career for other impressive PR stunts. Scrutinized and criticized, one things for sure. Madonna knows how to hold the media’s attention because she knows how to tell a good story. Not bad pipes either. I still include her pop songs when I teach Spinning at the gym to beat blogger butt.
Speaking of holding the media’s attention, The Daily Share just had a really interesting segment on about Modern Family’s tech episode. (If you’re a tech expert, take note on this news hook!) One co-host said he was shocked that Apple didn’t pay for that, which appeared to be advertising on the popular TV show. In fact, he said it was actually ‘un-American.’ It shows we’ve come to expect that when brand names are mentioned in editorial coverage, whether on the news or in a TV series, that they are paying a premium for that advertising. What’s more, is that in today’s fast-paced technical media environment, if you have a good story to tell, people will tell it. Even if you don’t pay them. You can just say, you earned it.
People say it all the time with little thought to what they’re actually saying, “That’s insane.” Is it actually insane? Today, the media is asking that question and they need experts who can help the public discussion about what constitutes sane or insane behavior as they process the guilty verdict in the American Sniper trial.
Words. We use them in trials. We use them to ask other people to trust us. Dog and baby food companies use words to entice us to care for the pets and babies we love. In today’s news, media friends are looking for sources who know about toxic dog food and how babies form allergies. LA Weekly is still reporting on how feeding babies peanut products may thwart peanut allergies. What? Haven’t ‘words’ taught us that the opposite is true? Many families have pets and some of these treat their pets like their babies. Surely a public debate on this will continue so families who have been affected by this and health experts who know about the ins and out of this will be sought by media. Fox8 in Cleveland reports on the lawsuit in which a dog food brand ‘words’ (and actions) affect the health of thousands of dogs.
Here’s a PR tip: media LOVE babies and dogs. Why? Because we love babies and dogs.
My husband loves to say to me when I’m stuck articulating something, “Baby, use your words.” He is saying it in a coy and loving way, but here’s the reality. We use our words to create our world. Words = world.
Words affect the world – the whole world as well. I mean, globally. In college, I was awarded a community honor for my work with Amnesty International. Voice of America reports this organization is releasing its 2014 report stating the world response to violence is ‘shameful.’ As a former Chicago and Louisville chapter leader of Amnesty International, I can tell you that words make a life and death difference. If you’re an author, nonprofit leader or person with knowledge of human rights and the work of Amnesty International, the media will be seeking you to comment on this study.
Finally, today’s shocking words come from an unlikely source. Mother Teresa is in the middle of a controversy sparking global conversation according to the International Business Times. My first job out of college was doing PR for a theater troupe with Call To Action, a group calling for peace within the Catholic church. Religious conversation is a tricky one for the media and if you have the gift of (secular) gab on how to make sense of religious controversy, trust me, the media seeks your voice.
Here’s what I know is really insane. For your voice to not be heard. Speak up. The world is listening.
Like all stories, there is a beginning, middle and end. News is just a summary of compelling stories for the day. They’re being written newly each day and by offering yourself as a source to media contacts, you can help shape and form public stories of interest.
Shoot, just now on the TV I saw a “Whitney Houston fan” used as a source to discuss the reasons why her daughter may or may not be in a coma. I found that interesting. I mean, using a fan as a source on coma commentary. Hmmm. See, in the past 25 years I’ve done PR, only experts have really been used as sources. By experts, I mean doctors, authors, industry leaders and people with first-hand experience, say a personal friend of the celebrity or someone who’s experienced what we’re discussing in the news: storms, legislative changes and so forth. In today’s Twitter fueled world, “sources” come in all forms.
To be part of the public conversation a particular news venue is shaping, the first step is to be a fan. Join your favorite media on social media to really stay in touch with the stories they’re shaping. Before the smoke clears and your opportunity to be a source passes you up, take note. If you’re offering yourself as a source, today, you might want to tie in your expertise to these items trending in the news. For example, Alaska becomes the 3rd state to legalize marijuana. Perhaps you live in Alaska or even better, maybe you’re a doctor who can discuss the pros and cons of smoking weed. These are the types of sources media today will be seeking. People who have authored books on the history of drugs or addictions can also use this news to forward a public conversation to which they’re committed.
Patricia Arquette is still in the news today about seeking equal pay at the Academy Awards. But this time, the smoke surrounding her isn’t her politics, but instead how she missed the opportunity to include all minorities. So, if you have a masters degree in social work, local and national media would love to hear the truth about how minorities are under-served and how this Hollywood tie-in fits into news in their backyard.
Dating back to the Trojan war, disguise has always been a large story to tell. Today militants aligned to the Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram have been captured attempting to escape the northeastern town of Baga disguised as women, according to reports like this one from Newsweek. It’s a current-day war story that’s sure to be retold in the future and media friends will be seeking experts who can discuss war, Boko Haram, Nigeria and the use of women as a distraction. This topic is also a war reality that was featured front and center in the currently-in-trial Chris Kyle story, also now a popular movie on PTSD, American Sniper, winning a best-sound Oscar at Academy Award this past Sunday. Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, clutched dog tags at the awards ceremony. For weeks to come, experts on war strategy, PTSD/mental illness and how war affects women is sure to continue to blow as the smoke tries to clear.
What’s smoking in your sphere of influence? Connect with media contacts influencing you. They just might want to hear from you; at least until the smoke of today’s news clears.